Sunday, 11 November 2018

Book Report: Autumn 2018

Cooler weather and remembering that practically every apartment in Dubai comes with a pool has made for a lot of reading since the mercury dropped. Since my last round-up I've ticked off a few bookclub reads, as well as downloading those books that just keep on popping up on my Instagram feed...

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma was a bookclub read. Aside from Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche, I hadn't read another Nigerian novelist before. Obioma writes like a natural story-teller, setting out a modern day fable with heaps of imagery, folklore and modern Nigerian history thrown in, centring around four brothers growing up in mid-90s Nigeria. The story is dark but it's not a grim book to read in any way.

I'm not much of a non-fiction reader (doing a law degree will do that) but The Culture Map by Erin Meyer is one that I would really recommend if you live or work in a country other than the one you grew up in (so...most of us in Dubai). It's well written, the chapters feeling more like in-depth articles that you can dip in and out of and return to if you're facing a specific roadblock. While it's written as a "work" manual, everything in this book applies equally to personal interactions - doubly useful if, like me, you're from a mixed cultural background.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie is quite possibly my favourite read of the year. It feels like a brave book to have written, it's not always an easy one to read and being a modern re-telling of Antigone you know from the start that the ending isn't going to be a happy one... The viewpoint shifts between members of two very different British-Pakistani families, as love, politics and power clash and bring about an ending I had to read twice through. This is a quick, intense and very "current"read. 

The Red Sparrow Trilogy by Jason Matthews. Sometimes you just want to read something that entertains, draws you in and has you picking it up in every spare moment. I've not been as addicted to a trilogy since reading Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo etc) and, as with those, the books are far superior to the films. The books centre around a love affair between an American CIA Agent and a Russian former ballerina turned agent set against a backdrop of modern day Russia. There's also, oddly but it works, a short recipe at the end of each chapter for one of the dishes eaten by a character.

Instagram made me do it. But...I actually loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor starts of the book leading what appears to be a quiet and simple life, which is gradually stripped away by glimpses of her backstory and her gradual (and sometimes quite hilarious) journey out of her comfort zone. This book covers some heavy themes but never feels like a sad or wallowing read. The passages on loneliness were particularly hard-hitting.

Instagram made me do it again... Crazy Rich Asians is a definite "beach read", it's silly and brash and dramatic but...actually really quite entertaining. I'm sure you know the story - girl gets invited to spend the summer in Singapore to meet her boyfriends's family without realising that said boyfriend's family is, well, crazy rich. It reminded me a lot of the Gossip Girl novels, only swapping out the Upper East Side for Singapore. I've still not got around to seeing the film (which is why I picked this up in the first place!) or to reading the two sequels.

What have you been reading recently?



  1. I've seen the film of Red Sparrow and that was really brutal- not sure I could read it. I really like a couple of books by Erin Kelly (I've only read two) but they have been good page-turners.

    1. I found the film to be a lot more shocking than the book, and a little bit disappointing after reading it! Going to look up Erin Kelly now! x

    2. I really want to read The Red Sparrow books. I wasn't brave enough to watch the films - I just don't deal well with torture and gory things...
      I saw Crazy Rich Asians in the cinema and loved it. I want to read it as I'm sure the book will be better (they usually are!)

    3. The books are so good! There is some gore but the plot is much more nuanced that the film. I usually hate violent stuff but really enjoyed the trilogy!


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